Harriette Tuombe 22, never believed she could stand and address a big group of people, not even that of her age mates.
After being oriented at Groupe Scolaire Camp Kigali in Senior one to teach Mathematics, her fear faded away. This brought to life her dream of becoming a professional teacher.
Tuombe is one of the 900 youth who have benefited from the Teaching Assistantships program to nurture her teaching skills.
Through this five-year program, best performing high school students are selected and deployed in host schools, under the supervision of mentors, during a 9-month teaching and learning process.
These young girls and boys are engaged in making lesson plans, conducting lessons in classes and laboratories, supervising exams and extra-curricular activities, including debates and sports.
‘Sstanding before any audience was a challenge to me, but I can now stand before a class of more than 20 students, socialize with them, with no fear. I also offer guidance in ICT lessons and weekend studies, especially to those in my neighborhood,” Tuombe proudly said.
Since the urge to promote sciences remains an ambition by the Ministry of Education, the aim is to attract them in Education, particularly in Science, Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM). Trainings also build their capacity in addressing gender, as a cross-cutting issue.
Selected Teaching Assistants support in teaching primary and secondary students in Science and Humanities in public and government aided schools. They are further encouraged to consider Education as an area of further academic study.
Deployment is based on one’s nearest nine-year and twelve-year basic education school, to help in rendering support in educating his/her local community, within affordable means of transport.
Other forms of facilitations like being offered laptops for lesson preparations, research, transport fee, monthly stipend, among others, enables and motivates the teaching assistants to carry out their responsibilities promptly.
It is an initiative funded by the Mastercard Foundation, and implemented by Inspire Educate and Empower Rwanda (IEE), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB) and other stakeholders.
The program fosters a teaching force, majorly for STEM at 70% and for humanities at 30%, during the current Education Sector Strategic Plan period of 2018/19- 2014/25.
Joseph Uwamukiza, a Senior 4 student at Groupe Scolaire Saint Etienne Sheli in Kamonyi district. commends the role of Teaching Assistants, saying their methodology of teaching especially in science subjects, allows them to grasp topics very fast.
Uwumukiza said ‘Our teaching assistant helped us to acquire more knowledge in Geography lessons, and encouraged us to study, using learning through Play method. He has also taught us skills in public speech, hence easing our learning process.’
This process of shaping potential young teachers is an extension of the pilot phase which started in 2019. Currently, under the second phase, 310 Teaching Assistants were deployed in 2022 to work with 30 District based mentors, followed by the recent batch of 630 youth deployed this year, meant to support teaching in 116 selected host schools, in all 30 districts.
Didier Nahimana, the Director of Studies at Camp Kigali primary school, one of the host schools said that teaching assistants have made teaching easy, a reason why the program needs to be extended to many schools, for quality teaching and learning.
‘To us, these young girls and boys came as a helping hand. When a host teacher works with a Teaching Assistant, work becomes easier, especially in lesson preparation. Our school was lucky to be among the pilot schools. Both pupils and teaching assistants have gained experience. The later act as teachers and help host teachers in class management,” said Nahimana.
One of the host teachers at Groupe Scolaire Protestant in Remera (Kigali) Fidele Hakizimana confirmed the role of Teaching assistants in easing their work.
He said: “We work together with Teaching Assistants in different class activities, they are well-versed with modern methods of teaching. They support us in a perfect way, through lesson preparations, teaching, conducting practical lessons in laboratories and in other challenges we encounter together.”